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The Fastest Way to Lose Your Audience When Sharing a Story

By January 12, 2023Storytelling

What happens when two master storytellers spend a few minutes together? They geek out about how to tell a powerful, engaging story. AND they agree on the fastest way to lose your audience when sharing a story.

The wise, fun, brilliant, Jason Ellinger, founder of Beard and Bowler, a nonprofit storytelling and video production company, generously spent time with me this week.
Fastest Way to Lose Your Audience
[To learn more about his founding story watch this video or scroll down on this page on his website for a deeper look into the roots of the company.]

Jason put words to something I’ve been teaching nonprofit staff for years. It’s a simple storytelling tactic that will either keep your listener or reader on the edge of their seat waiting for the end OR cause them to lose interest and move on.

KEY storytelling fact: Conflict is the oxygen of your story. It’s why we watch ALL those episodes of a Netflix series or stay until the end of that 3-hour and 12-minute movie.

Take your listeners or readers or viewers of your video on a journey when you craft a story. Help them feel some of what it’s like to walk alongside courageous people; live in a community with contaminated water; deal with an aging body; or _____ fill the blank with your mission.

Take us on a journey. But don’t end our journey too quickly.

The fastest way to lose your audience when sharing a story is to bring in the resolution too soon.

Jason has done an unscientific study of the Disney Pixar movies he’s watched with his 3-year-old son. He began noting how long from the resolution to the ending credits. Because who pays attention to anything after the resolution? The range he’s noted is 1 to 2 minutes.

Do YOU remember what happened in Toy Story 1 after Woody and Buzz fly into Andy’s car and land safely? I don’t. No one much cares about what happens after the resolution of the conflict in the movie or the story you’re telling.

Science tells us the primary driver of human behavior is EMOTION. So, when you craft messages this year, I invite you to take your community on a journey to feel something. Pride. Irritation. Frustration. Hope. Inspiration. DO share the conflict and nuggets of the story that shines a spotlight on the courage of the hero of your story.

Please don’t resolve the conflict too soon.

You’ll lose your audience.

And raise less money.


Do your stories ethically open hearts & wallets? Do you know HOW to effectively hold the resolution to the end of the story?  Learn how  — in 4 one-hour sessions.

I want to work with you…IF you are willing to learn new things, receive caring truthteller coaching, and stretch yourself to believe you WILL raise more money this year.

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